OCEAN AVE — Keith Roberts, the executive chef at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, is someone whom I have been following over the last year or so as he has added his own flavor and strict standards to the hotel’s kitchen and restaurant, Ocean & Vine. He has a real passion for food that always seems to come through when we chat. He’s genuine and very giving of his time, which I appreciate.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with him the other day at the book signing for “The Culinary Canine,” which is chock full of recipes by local chefs, including Roberts, who craft gourmet meals for their dogs. He agreed to provide me the recipe for one of his favorite dishes for the holidays — an apple and cheddar soup.

“The soup reminds me of holiday ski trips with my family when we would have hot apple cider and warm cheese soup,” said the soft-spoken chef, who can often be seen at one of the local Farmers’ Markets stocking up on fresh, organic ingredients. “I blended the two together and added some new touches to play with the flavors.”

In addition to the cheddar soup, Roberts hooked me up with the recipe for one of my favorite dishes — Santa Monica chili — now available on the hotel’s lunch menu. If you haven’t tried it, you are missing out.

Apple and cheddar soup

Ingredients:

3 Gala apples, small

1 1/2 Granny Smith apples, large

2 1/2 tablespoons butter, unsalted

3 stalks celery

1/2 teaspoon, fresh thyme, chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable bouillon powder

3 cups extra sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup apple cider

3/4 teaspoon Champagne vinegar

Yield: 6

 

Method:

Place all ingredients in a large stainless steel sauce pot and bring to a boil on high heat, simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Puree with a hand mixer in pot until smooth. Ladle into bowl and garnish with white cheddar crisp.

 

White cheddar crisps

Ingredients:

12 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup extra sharp white cheddar cheese

pinch of salt

pinch of ground cayenne pepper

pinch of ground nutmeg

8 tablespoons butter, unsalted

 

Method:

Heat the cheese until almost melted then blend with all other ingredients. Roll dough into 1.25-inch wide tube and refrigerate until firm. Slice very thin and place on baking sheet and bake at 350 until brown on edges.

Santa Monica chili

Serves 1 portion

Ingredients:

2 oz shrimp — rock

3 oz (one each) scallops — Day Boat

1 oz jumbo lump crabmeat

1/4 tsp. garlic peeled, minced

2 oz chablis cooking

1 oz butter unsalted

5 each fava beans, peeled and blanched

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper, ground

1 tsp. (1/2 large lemon) lemon juice

pinch of crushed chili flakes

1/2 oz olive oil

Method:

Heat olive oil in medium fry pan and sear scallops until well browned on both sides, transfer to tray or pan and place in medium oven to complete cooking while stew is finished.

In same fry pan sauté rock shrimp and salt pepper and chili flakes over high heat for 30 seconds, add crab, fava beans and white wine and simmer for 1 minute then remove from the heat and stir in butter. Pour into soup bowl or tureen and top with the seared scallop now cut in half. Serve with toast point or crouton.

kevinh@www.smdp.com

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